Ever wonder if K-12 schools, modern businesses are listening to the voices of those they serve? Well, I do as well. Seth Godin made a powerful point in his entry, “All I do is work here.” When cogs in the machine of an organization leverage their use of that organization to their benefit, but neglect to take responsibility for what it does wrong, by disassociating themselves from it with the words, “All I do is work here,” they play a hypocritical role.

In schools today, as well as businesses, we like to think our focus is on facilitating learning. But in a world of integrated learning systems where drill-n-practice, tutorial software dominates, where rush around like headless chickens trying to meet AYP or whatever the latest craze is that pushes us warp-speed without reason…it sounds like educators are more interested in “delivering” education to students.

Yet, communication technologies are changing how we interact and work with one another. Organizations–like schools and businesses–continue to disregard these, citing children’s safety, viewing these as distractions to the REAL work. But wait…isn’t the real work to prepare children and their teachers to build a strong vibrant, interdependent community of learners who can creatively solve today’s, tomorrow’s ill-structured problems?

In one view of the world, perfection is getting your carefully crafted version of reality “out there.” You control the message because you control reality. The problem is, the people in your organization can also tweet their version and often, faster than you can craft your original response or message. Limiting the scope of the interaction to the PR person and the journalist, as if they were the only ones who mattered…silly, isn’t it?

Consider this advice for “twitter and media relations” as bad advice. Yes, but as a citizen-journalist, I no longer care about the dying news organizations journalists serve. I’m more interested in building relationships with people who will give it to me straight, be authentic, transparent over the long haul. These long term relationships built up over time via tweets, blog entries, provide a livelier impression of the truth…subjective perceptions combine to form objective truth.

    • Twitter…can serve as a powerful platform for learning about journalists’ interests and preferences.
    • Many journalists are open to being pitched through Twitter because it forces PR pros to get to the point quickly – in 140 characters or less
    • It’s easy for PR people to learn what a journalist is interested in writing about if they follow them – and pay attention
    • It’s a bad idea for your first interaction with a journalist to be a direct message (DM) pitch – especially if it’s off-topic
    • The best bet is to show appreciation and acknowledge that you’re following the journalist’s tweets

The focus in this blog entry is obviously on PR people. But when everyone has access to Twitter in an organization, even when that technology is blocked/banned, through their mobile phones, can the organization really hope to limit the scope of the communications possible through draconian, command-and-control approaches?

It is reminiscent of the Apple/AT&T approach to Google Voice. While Wes is kind to Apple in his blog entry–what ADE would not be–let’s play it straight. Apple eliminates apps that threaten it’s bottom-line. They are as guilty as AT&T, shown below.

As Wes Fryer ( points out

As digital creativity blooms, some corporate leaders striving to cling to historic marketshare appear bent on embracing policies of control rather than empowerment….As a company I’ve observed AT&T seems more interested in packet DELIVERY than digital user empowerment. Perhaps their corporate leaders need to spend some time listening to Clay Shirkey?

Forget Clay Shirky, listen to your customers…listen to me. I’m sending this blog entry out as a tweet to 1500+ folks, and this blog entry will be read countless times.

Are you listening AT&T? More importantly, are K-12 school districts who model their approach after modern businesses listening? It isn’t about Good to Great…it’s about empowering your people to be great communicators. You can’t do that if you’re blocking and banning. Time to build relationships, empower communications, and have the community conversations you couldn’t have when we lacked communication technologies like we have now.

Embrace the technology for communal change…empower the users and they empower the organization.

In the interests of full disclosure: I typed this on my Macbook and my AT&T phone is right here next to me.